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View Full Version : Unbelievable! A crape myrtle that hasn't been mutilated!


FIMCO-MEISTER
09-21-2007, 09:49 PM
I thought you all should see a rare sight in Dallas. An unmutilated Crape Myrtle. No plant suffers from landscapers trying to look busy more than this plant.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-21-2007, 10:03 PM
The censors shut it down. I guess they thought you folks couldn't handle an unmutilated crape myrtle.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 01:20 AM
Well here it is not banned after all.

jeffinsgf
09-22-2007, 10:03 AM
Being unmutilated doesn't necessarily mean that it adds to the landscape.

Seems to dominate the house, making it look smaller. Also looks like a gutter nightmare. :dizzy:

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 11:11 AM
Being unmutilated doesn't necessarily mean that it adds to the landscape.

Seems to dominate the house, making it look smaller. Also looks like a gutter nightmare. :dizzy:

So you mutilate your myrtles HUH?!

lifetree
09-22-2007, 11:40 AM
Seems to dominate the house, making it look smaller ... :dizzy:

That's what I thought !!

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 11:44 AM
I guess you guys don't believe in the concept of a majestic plant?

BostonBull
09-22-2007, 12:38 PM
That plant has had th lower branches RAPED off! That is far from unmutilated. The inner canopy has been stripped and it is being allowe to grow at a pis poor angle, on the house, and with co dominant stems.

Get a better subject than this to prove your point. Wrong tree for the wrong area. Prun it back from the house, let some interior growth happen and lighten those tips so the branches stay shorter and stronger rather than that long leggy crap that is going on in this one.

I am an Arborist. I wouldnt go to bid a lawn cutting job, and MOST Landscapers shouldnt touch trees.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 01:44 PM
That plant has had th lower branches RAPED off! That is far from unmutilated. The inner canopy has been stripped and it is being allowe to grow at a pis poor angle, on the house, and with co dominant stems.

Get a better subject than this to prove your point. Wrong tree for the wrong area. Prun it back from the house, let some interior growth happen and lighten those tips so the branches stay shorter and stronger rather than that long leggy crap that is going on in this one.

I am an Arborist. I wouldnt go to bid a lawn cutting job, and MOST Landscapers shouldnt touch trees.

I knew I would eventually flush somebody out who knows what he is talking about. Neill Sperry and Howard Garrett our two most vocal radio landscapers are adamant that Crapes not be pruned. I agree that is a poor location for that plant but is was there when I moved in and decided to let it stay.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 02:08 PM
Here are two sites on the matter. Unfortunately that top pic is what I see way too often in Dallas.

http://dallas.tamu.edu/woody/cmyrtle/pruning.html

http://dallas.tamu.edu/woody/cmyrtle/

Garrett says to leave the seed pods for winter show.

Clemson site does a nice job.
http://www.clemson.edu/crepemyrtle/pruninginstructions.htm

I'm bringing this up now because we are heading into pruning season for Crape Myrtles and if one landscaper who has been doing it wrong (including myself) will do it right this thread will have been worth it.

After the leaves drop on mine I'm getting a pro to prune and will do a before and after pic.

Kiril
09-22-2007, 02:26 PM
I'll agree with pruning the branches on the house, and the size appears to be a bit large given the location.

@BostonBull: As far as pruning, I don't see your point. Crepe myrtles are quite often grown as multi-stemmed trees and are supposed to be pruned in that fashion. Perhaps you should read up on recommended pruning techniques for crepe myrtles.

http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/L331.htm#Pruning

http://hgic.clemson.edu/pdf/hgic1009.pdf (note the "co-dominant" stems and open habit in the "well pruned" example)

I also don't see any evidence of lion tailing here based on the picture that I have zoomed to 350% it's original size.

Given some crepe myrtles varieties are highly susceptible to sooty mold and powdery mildew, and the fact that branch structure is one of the most desirable characteristics of these plants, why wouldn't you thin out the interior to allow more air movement and highlight branch structure?

I think the point he is trying to make is to show a tree that hasn't been topped or pollard, both of which are common practice among uninformed landscapers and homeowners.

BostonBull
09-22-2007, 03:44 PM
I'll agree with pruning the branches on the house, and the size appears to be a bit large given the location.

@BostonBull: As far as pruning, I don't see your point. Crepe myrtles are quite often grown as multi-stemmed trees and are supposed to be pruned in that fashion. Perhaps you should read up on recommended pruning techniques for crepe myrtles.

http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/L331.htm#Pruning

http://hgic.clemson.edu/pdf/hgic1009.pdf (note the "co-dominant" stems and open habit in the "well pruned" example)

I also don't see any evidence of lion tailing here based on the picture that I have zoomed to 350% it's original size.

Given some crepe myrtles varieties are highly susceptible to sooty mold and powdery mildew, and the fact that branch structure is one of the most desirable characteristics of these plants, why wouldn't you thin out the interior to allow more air movement and highlight branch structure?

I think the point he is trying to make is to show a tree that hasn't been topped or pollard, both of which are common practice among uninformed landscapers and homeowners.


Multi stemmed and co-dominant leaders are VERY different. Many species are multi stemmed, and if left alone and not properly pruned will become co-dominant stems, often with included bark.
I never stated lion tailing, I said there is a lack of lower, stability branches, and that the middle was very opened up. Lower branches are the most important branches on a tree. They offer a quick path to take up and store sugars made in photosynthesis, they are great at pulling up nutrients and water from the roots and helping to push these essentials north towards the tips, and they offer great stability.

I understand that it hasn't been topped or pollarded, but these are VERY bad practices that often times are thought of as great because landscapers do it all the time.

Topping/heading cuts are the worst cuts you can make to any tree or shrub. Only monocot type stems, like grasses should be pruned/cut with heading cuts. Dicot stems often times die instantly from this practice, or they sucker out uncontrollably and take years and years of proper pruning to get them back to normal. Hedge trimmers annoy me the most. Become an educated salesman, landscaper, Arborist and sell proper hedge pruning. This will take longer, make you more money, and be extremely beneficial to the plant.

Kiril
09-22-2007, 04:20 PM
Hedge pruning should be banned. :dancing:

Multi stemmed and co-dominant leaders are VERY different.

Yes, however I cannot make a positive determination of that from the pic since I cannot clearly see the crown. At 400% zoom it does appear you might have a co-dominant leaders on the two in the front, but it is too blurry to really tell for sure.

I will say based on the growth it would appear it was cut to the ground at one point.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 04:24 PM
Let me add a couple more pics. I've been so paranoid about pruning this Crepe or Crape (see it both ways) myrtle that the only pruning it has had in the 9 years I've lived here is trimming whole branches off the roof and pulling shooters from the base. I think my yard guy trimmed lower branches once before I told him if he ever pulled pruning shears out again he was finished with me. I know it needs a pruning of some kind just want to make sure it is right. I'll take some pics again after the leaves drop.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 04:26 PM
[QUOTE=Kiril;1971634
I will say based on the growth it would appear it was cut to the ground at one point.[/QUOTE]

Really!? Interesting, how can you tell?

Kiril
09-22-2007, 04:38 PM
Really!? Interesting, how can you tell?

It looks like the stems are situated radially around a stump.

Here's a pic I took a while back of a tree I got called out on and I happened to have my camera. A nice example of what can happen as a result of co-dominance.

jeffinsgf
09-22-2007, 05:30 PM
So you mutilate your myrtles HUH?!

How did you draw that inference from my comment that the plant is out of scale to the house?

I love majestic plants, but they have to be placed correctly. Multi-stemmed, co-dominant or whatever -- I would like that plant much better removed 30 or 40 feet from the house.

As I understand the pruning recommendations for crape myrtle, that plant shouldn't be pruned until a few weeks before bud break in the Spring.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 09:38 PM
How did you draw that inference from my comment that the plant is out of scale to the house?



Jeff :waving: I used the oldest lawyer trick in the book:)

Kate Butler
09-22-2007, 09:44 PM
Can someone please explain the "too large for the house" aspect of many of these posts?? Would you say the same thing about an oak, or a maple, or even a LARGE lilac?

If it were mine. I'd take out the one or two stems closest (and leaning in)to the house (to make it more shapely): and keep after (removing) basal shoots to prevent regrowing into the house. Then, I'd prune it like it was an apple - removing dead twigs, crossed branches, anything with the appearance of instability. And then, wait and see.

A great pruning job looks as if it hasn't been pruned at all, and "un-hatracked" crepe myrtles are extraordinary!! Kudos to you for keeping it looking natural.

landscaper7518
09-22-2007, 11:14 PM
If a plant has to be pruned back constantly in order to keep it in a certain shape it is the wrong plant for that place. For one if it was the right plant then there wouldn't be a whole heck of alot of maintenance involved with it. It definately doesn't belong so close to the house. The person who planted it wasn't thinking about the growth of the plant or what would happen 5 to 10 years down the road when the plant is growing into the house. This is the very reason why my teacher preaches the right plant for the right place, because things like that occur.

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-22-2007, 11:36 PM
It doesn't really bother me that it rubs the house a little. The gutters are fairly easy to clean. Kate's advice sounds good. I am going to get a professional on it in winter to touch it up. At the dog park I go to is a landscaper with a STOP CRAPE MYRTLE MUTILATION bumper sticker on her car. I'll ask her about it.:drinkup:

GreenT
09-22-2007, 11:56 PM
A great pruning job looks as if it hasn't been pruned at all, and "un-hatracked" crepe myrtles are extraordinary!! Kudos to you for keeping it looking natural.

I agree.

BTW, I call Crape Myrtle mutilation, CRAPE MURDER.

tacoma200
09-23-2007, 01:46 AM
Great looking plant, even if it is a bit close. Enjoy...

Kiril
09-23-2007, 03:43 AM
The tree is too close to the house and if you prune the two branches out that are over the roof the tree will no longer be balanced. The tree should really be no less than 10-12 feet away from the house, at which point it would not be too big, not would you have problems with branches on the roof.

The other option is to cut it to the ground and maintain what comes back as a shrub. ;)

FIMCO-MEISTER
09-23-2007, 07:04 AM
The tree is too close to the house and if you prune the two branches out that are over the roof the tree will no longer be balanced. The tree should really be no less than 10-12 feet away from the house, at which point it would not be too big, not would you have problems with branches on the roof.

The other option is to cut it to the ground and maintain what comes back as a shrub. ;)

;) Will not attempt to maintain as shrub. I agree with the unbalanced part. The house issue doesn't bother me. I quite possibly will let it continue to do its thing without me inflicting my personal opinion on how it should be doing its thing.

TURFLORD
09-23-2007, 07:44 AM
;) I quite possibly will let it continue to do its thing without me inflicting my personal opinion on how it should be doing its thing.
Here's the first sentence in this discussion that comes closest to the truth. Everybody has a different opinion on what is proper. If the customer wants it sheared into oblivion, then so be it. The main reason that humans have taken plants from the wild and hybridized, bastardized, cross pollenated, or whatever, is for asthetic value. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The main adage that holds true here is "form over function". The tree is hitting the house and therefore causing damage to the house. Any landscaping that causes damage to a structure is incorrect.

Kiril
09-23-2007, 10:24 AM
Plants are individuals just like humans. Each one has it own personality, this is why pruning is an art. If people would take time to step back and look at what the plant is happy doing, then prune to suit that, we would all have happy plants.

As someone has already pointed out, if you choose and place your plants carefully, they will need little or no maint. This is what we like to call low input landscapes.

I agree with the unbalanced part. The house issue doesn't bother me.

I would at least do what the Bull suggested and do a little tipping to get the branches off the roof. You don't want to damage your shingles or pave a highway for rats.

As Kate said...A great pruning job looks as if it hasn't been pruned at all

greasy_gun
09-23-2007, 08:28 PM
That plant has had th lower branches RAPED off! That is far from unmutilated. The inner canopy has been stripped and it is being allowe to grow at a pis poor angle, on the house, and with co dominant stems.

Get a better subject than this to prove your point. Wrong tree for the wrong area. Prun it back from the house, let some interior growth happen and lighten those tips so the branches stay shorter and stronger rather than that long leggy crap that is going on in this one.

I am an Arborist. I wouldnt go to bid a lawn cutting job, and MOST Landscapers shouldnt touch trees.

i agree, the lower portion has been mutilated!!

Kate Butler
09-23-2007, 10:15 PM
There is a lot of difference between "mutilation" and allowing a large shrub/small tree to "show some leg". If it were allowed to keep shooting sprouts from the ground, it would be a hedge or total screen and not the multi-stemmed small tree we see in these pictures.

Hatracking is mutilation: SELECTIVE pruning to accomplish a desired shape is not - provided it is not extreme (less than 20%).

Kiril
09-24-2007, 09:27 AM
Here is one possible approach to pruning/shaping the tree. Target your pruning more or less outside the blue line. The amount of tipping/heading you do will depend on branch size and habit.

MarcSmith
09-24-2007, 10:52 AM
none of ours on campus are hatracked.....I used to have a picture of a guy standing on the roof of his truck hatracking a crepe...

Its one thing to Pollard a tree, which I still dislike, but watching folks do crepes wrong still makes me cringe